Structure, form, geometry: three topics of conversation you’d probably expect more from an architects’ office than an East London caff on a drizzly Monday night. But then you’ve probably not experienced a Burger Monday. If you had trekked, like we did, out into the rain on a Bank Holiday to stump up £35 for a three course meal centred around a reinterpretation of the humble burger, you’d probably also be considering the sandwich from every which way.
Burger Monday is a celebration and a fetishisation of the burger like nothing I’ve seen before. Each week, food writer Daniel Young, of Young & Foodish fame, invites a new chef in to join the eternal quest for burger enlightenment – Hawksmoor have done the honours in the past; this week we had Goodman – and the grubby diner in which it all takes place is a hub of burger related analysis.
This week’s presentation was a chuck, rib eye, sirloin and short rib amalgamation ensconced in a mayo/ketchup/egg/Tabasco “special sauce” and trapped in a sourdough brioche. Its arrival, after a small fishy caesar salad that served really just to mop up the communal salivation round the table, drew gasps of near pornographic appreciation. It looked big. It looked meaty. It looked too much to handle. It bled translucent blood as you crushed it into mouth-sized dimensions. It tasted – well you can guess how it tasted: gourmet and ultimate like those chain places couldn’t comprehend. It was several shades of brilliant beyond most burgers I’ve ever gone near.
I was among true foodies, and among them the prime burger connoisseur of the capital, Burgerac (yes, someone has combined a love for burgers with the name of the greatest TV detective from Jersey to be soundtracked by George Fenton, deal with it, he thought of it first). There were some grievances. Firstly, the presence of a gherkin outside the construction, meaning the recipient had to decide how, and where to insert their appendage (much like at Byron). Second, the curvature of the lettuce leaf, which lettuce leaf was a romaine or a small cos lettuce leaf and had an unacceptable concave and bowl-like appearance, which is apparently a no-no in the world of burger construction. I hadn’t noticed. I was mauling the remnants of my bacon and dripping type O onto my plate and the it must be said disappointing chip shop chips. Dessert was a creamy, brownie-filled sundae thing but most people seemed to just eat these while dreaming of another burger. Beers and wine were included, as was a hefty dose of conviviality, and it turns out the £31.75-busting price tag is wholly justified.
Burger Monday is having a few weeks off, but is back at the end of June. The last couple of nights have sold out in three hours, so check the site to get on the mailing list.